What could Stephen Strasburg be worth?

The Washington Nationals won their first World Series in franchise history.

Stephen Strasburg, the most dominant pitcher during the postseason, is in line to receive an enormous paycheck this offseason after opting out of a $100 million deal that would have extended his stay in D.C.

He had a perfect 5-0 record in the playoffs and pitched to the tune of a 1.98 ERA over the course of 36.1 innings pitched, with 47 strikeouts against just four base on balls. He became the first ever first overall pick to win a World Series MVP.

The only National League pitchers who were more valuable than Strasburg (5.7) during the regular season in terms of wins above replacement (FanGraphs’ version) were Max Scherzer (6.5) and Jacob deGrom (7.0).

Strasburg, having registered at least 130 innings in eight consecutive seasons dating back to 2012, has proven to be fairly durable, especially when one considers that he underwent Tommy John surgery shortly after his highly anticipated debut in 2010.

Though it’s worth pointing out that Strasburg’s fastball velocity has dwindled notably in recent years. In fact, of the 54 pitchers (each of whom had to have thrown at least one four-seam fastball) to throw 130+ innings the last two seasons, Strasburg’s drop in FF velocity was the seventh largest.

With that being said, Strasburg two best offerings are his curveball and changeup. In the postseason hitters posted a .146 batting average and a .244 slugging percentage off of Strasburg’s curve and a .162 batting average and a .243 slugging percentage off of his changeup.

Curveball
Changeup

In order to project, Strasburg’s next contract, we will need to make several assumptions

5.0% inflation (for first 5 years)
Aging Curve: +0.25 WAR/yr (18-27), 0 WAR/yr (28-30),-0.5 WAR/yr (31-37),-0.75 WAR/yr (> 37)

In my last piece, “Estimating the Astro(nomical) Worth of Gerrit Cole’s Next Contract,” I calculated the approximate cost in millions per 1 fWAR in looking at the contracts the previous four front-line starters signed (Justin Verlander, Chris Sale, Patrick Corbin, and Clayton Kershaw). I took away inflation to calculate the pre-2019 season dollars (in millions) / 1 fWAR. The median for all four pitchers came out to 6.565.

First, let’s calculate Strasburg’s weighted fWAR from the last three seasons…

2017 (age-28 season): 5.9

2018: 2.4

2019 (age-30): 5.7

Weighted WAR: [(2016 * 0.2) + (2017 * 0.35) + (2018 * 0.45)] = 4.585

Based on his extremely impressive postseason performance, however, I think it is fair to bump up that weighted WAR by 20 percent, which would bring it up to around 5.5 (meaning that he will be a ~5 win pitcher next year).

His projected wins above replacement values moving forward…

2020: (age-31 season): 5.0

2021: 4.5

2022 (age-33 season): 4.0

2023: 3.5

2024 (age-35 season): 3.0

2025: 2.5

2026 (age-37 season): 2.0

2027: 1.25

Here is what Strasburg will be worth in each of those years using $6.565 million per 1 fWAR as the baseline…

2020: $34.47 million (5.0 * 6.89 [6.565 * 1.05 {inflation}])

2021: $32.57 million (4.5 * 7.24)

2022: $30.40 million (4.0 * 7.60)

2023: $27.92 million (3.5 * 7.98)

2024: $25.14 million (3.0 * 8.38)

2025: $20.95 million (2.5 * 8.38)

2026: $16.76 million (2.0 * 8.38)

2027: $10.47 million (1.25 * 8.38)

Possible contracts…

  • 1 yr / $34.47 million
  • 2 yr / $67.04 million
  • 3 yr / $97.44 million
  • 4 yr / $125.36 million
  • 5 yr / $150.5 million
  • 6 yr / $171.45 million
  • 7 yr / $188.21 million
  • 8 yr / $198.68 million

Prediction: 8 yr / $200 million deal with the Nationals

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